Thursday, April 8, 2010

The right kind of heat

I love hot sauce, but I'm pretty picky* and Sriracha** has never done it for me. Luckily, I've found my alternative.

chili paste!
{chili paste!}

Sambal oelek is made by the same company, but it's pure, thick chili paste. The heat level is fairly intense, so consider yourself warned. You can find it at Asian food stores, and in other random places - I actually picked mine up at Smart and Final, of all places. Equally good as a dipping sauce for summer rolls or kefta kebobs. Also makes an excellent addition to cooked dishes that need a bit of heat.

*I won't touch Tabasco with a 10 foot pole, but I have an undying love affair with Tapatio sauce.

**It's probably blasphemy to even admit this while living in Los Angeles. Sriracha (aka rooster sauce) is practically a religion, especially because it's made nearby (excellent NYTimes article about the family run business here). Even if you aren't from LA, you've probably seen it touted all over various food shows. Top Chef contestants are almost universally obsessed with it.

34 comments:

  1. How funny that you wrote about this! I feel the same way. Sambal seems a lot more complex than siracha--but I use it very sparingly.

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  2. I love hot sauce! I've never heard of Sambal.. but I put Franks Red Hot on everything!

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  3. I dated this man who loved PB&J with tabasco. We had a deal: He wouldn't open the vinegary stuff in my presence if I wouldn't eat hard-boiled eggs in his.

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  4. "Top Chef contestants are almost universally obsessed with it." So true!! haha!

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  5. I just started using siracha and I fall in the 'obsessed' category. But I could branch out, too....

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  6. Tapatilo is my fav in the Mexican category. Far better than Chaloupa (I think that's the wrong spelling...I shouldn't be commenting from my phone! Ugh) And I agree, Tabasco is yuck. It just taste like vinegar! As far as Asian hot sauces...I kind of love both, but I agree that sambal is probably better. Yum...now I'm craving a spiced up lunch....

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  8. I love spice in my food, so this seems right up my alley. Now it is time to go and get some! Thanks!

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  9. If you're looking for a Tabasco alternative, Pepperdoux is really good. I agree with you on Sambal oelek. I especially love it on Greek food.

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  10. i recently tried chili paste for the first time at my Pho restaurant and i completely agree...it's got the perfect amount of heat and is positively delicious!

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  11. p.s. I really lub that rooster.

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  12. I have never met a hot sauce I didn't like. Thanks for the tip on the fascinating Sriracha background--I eat that stuff on everything, especially eggs. Here in SF, even middle eastern restaurants put it on falafel. Yum.

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  13. ack, i love them both! i like the garlic-y flavor sambal has, but the straight-up heat sriracha delivers is great. i'm sick with a cold and have been enjoying it with Mrs. Grass' noodle soup--the kind in the box. So good!

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  14. Oh I love that paste! After having this one, I've been biased towards it.

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  15. we just ran out of franks red hot, which jesse puts on everything i cook (i try to not to feel insulted by it). i have heard of the wonders of sriracha but never tried it. most likely i'll see if i can pick up a locally made hot sauce from the farmers market.

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  16. mmm, i love hot sauce! i'll have to try this one out. xo!

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  17. I gotta say rooster snauce doesn't really do it for me, either, but I did enjoy that Times article about the fanatical devotion of its fans. Us, we love ourselves some CHALULA. Some hot sauce-obsessed friends from LA turned us onto it and it's just enough flava without being too spicy. It's AWESOME. ON ANYTHING. Pizza, eggs, popcorn, kale, you name it. I'll have to try your other recommendations now!

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  18. I see other Cholula fans have mentioned commented. Have you tried it? I love it. There was a bar near campus when I was in school that had it on every table, and it was awesome on their burgers.

    I love Tabasco, but that's probably because I love vinegar-y hot sauce. I like Sriracha, too, and I actually saw that Sambal at the store on Tuesday. I *almost* bought it, and now I feel like I should have.

    Oh, have you ever had malagueta? It's a Brasilian pepper. Teeny, but packs a wallop. It's always at my grandparents' house. And mine, actually.

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  19. I can't believe I'm commenting on hot sauce, but the truth is, I also love sambal.

    My love for it warrants a post!

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  20. Hot sauce is not to be taken lightly . . . Tapatio trumps Tobasco. Always. ;o)

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  21. mmmmm i had this with sitr fry last night!!!
    j.

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  22. Oooo Ya! I love thai chili garlic sauce. Tabasco just makes everything taste like tabasco - yuck. This stuff tho, it adds heat and perfect flavor!

    alice ~ http://funstuffandprettythings.blogspot.com

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  23. So excited to see so many other spice lovers out here! I'll have to try some of your suggestions.

    And for the record, I actually prefer Taptio to Cholula although both are vastly better than Tabasco (which is too vinegar-y for me).

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  24. Wow! looks yummy hot
    http://barelyvogue.blogspot.com/

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  25. I love this stuff. I use it in my homemade Asian dishes. Add some garlic and ginger and you're set. Yum!

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  26. I'm pretty picky with hot sauces too! I favor Cholula and the trader joe's version of tobasco actually!

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  27. i've never tried either - but yes, i see it all the time on the food channel.

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  28. Yes this is the best hot sauce. It not just hot, but flavorful. I mix a little bit with soy sauce to dip dumplings and add a little in with stir fry, so good!

    janice ~ http://coutureandcrayons.blogspot.com/

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  29. Good to know. I should pick some of this up for my husband. :)

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  30. Totally get the tabasco vs. tapatio thing!
    My husband and I are from LA and we only ever used tapatio... now we live in Arizona and all we can ever find while dining out is tabasco... hate it!

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  31. my husband puts sriracha on everything. i like mae ploy sweet chili sauce.

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  32. i'm more of a cholula girl, but no rooster sauce?! that's just unforgivable, rachel.

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  33. Late in the reply, but I feel the exact same way. I'm okay with Sriracha, but I love my Tapatio and Chili Sauce.

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